Monday, June 13, 2011

Tornado-hit family denied FEMA grant to repair home... because of 'insufficient damage' - 13th June 2011

Displaced families in tornado-ravaged Alabama are outraged after being denied federal aide to rebuild their flattened homes - due to 'insufficient damage'.

Jefferson County resident Jonathan Stewart said he laughed in shock after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claimed the house his family lost in the deadly April 27 twister was 'not unsafe to live in'.

The devastating reality is the house is now a concrete slab surrounded by rubble.

Mr Stewart told AL.com a FEMA inspector saw first-hand the Pleasant Grove residence he shared with his wife, Lisa, and their two children was ripped from the ground.

Three days after the visit, however, he received a letter reading: 'Based on your FEMA inspection, we have determined that the disaster has not caused your home to be unsafe to live in.

'Although the disaster may have caused some minor damage it is reasonable to expect you or your landlord to make these repairs. At this time you are not eligible for FEMA housing assistance.'

Mr Stewart told the website: 'Lisa and I looked at the letter and laughed.'

While he has since found out his insurance coverage will replace his house, the family is not alone.

Lashunta Tabb's home 15 miles away in North Smithfield Manor was stripped of its siding, and more than half of her roof blew off with tornado-force winds.

She too, received a letter claiming there was 'insufficient damage' - the number one reason in Alabama the people are determined ineligible for FEMA grants, worth up to $30,200.

It is not yet known how many Alabama tornado victims received the letter.

FEMA deputy branch director for individual assistance Lynda Lowe said finding of insifficient damage are often correct, and many of those who filed for assistance did not have damage.

FEMA officials encourage whose who believe they were wrongly declared ineligible to file for an appeal through local disaster recovery centres.

Spokesman Renee Bafalis said: 'If you have a question why you received a determination of ineligibility, go in there and let them look it up and help you file an appeal.'

A report issued on Wednesday, however, revealed few disaster victims follow through. Read More